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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Successful Canning Run (Beans)

I have affectionately named this year the Land of Not!  Seriously, it has been nothing but chaos which means a lot of the things I normally do are not being done, including blogging.  Some years are just like that but honestly, I need things back to normal.  Aside of mint and gooseberries, my garden is non-existant and I doubt there will be much in the way from the peach and pear trees.  I realized the year quickly slipping away leaving me little time to get my canning done before we head south.  So, I went to my favourite organic grower last Thursday to pick up beans for fresh eating and canning. 

fresh beans washed for prep
Green and wax beans are one of my favourite vegetables to can.  By far, the best canning bean with respect to flavour and texture is Blue Lake but any string bean can be canned, especially the heirloom favourite Kentucky Wonder.  Ask for these varieties if buying.  Both grow easily and are suitable for small spaces growing vertically.  It's best to remove the string for some varieties as it can become hard when canned resulting in a less than ideal end product.

Quite often someone will ask how many pounds of beans to buy for canning.  I generally aim to buy enough beans to run a full canner load of 19 - 500 ml (pint) jars.  I prefer this size for beans because we use the entire jar in a meal with no left overs.  One and a half to two pounds of beans gives a yield of about 1L (quart) or 2 - 500 ml (pint) jars according to Putting Food By (1975).  Ball Blue Book estimates 1½ to 2½ lb beans per 1L (quart) jar.  Pictured are the beans I bought, 3 lb wax beans and 8 3/4 lb green beans.  Based on the estimated yield, I should have had a yield of about 16 - 500 ml jars. 

twenty seven jars of beans
I ended up with a yield of 7 - 500 ml jars of wax beans and 20 - 500 ml jars of green beans, well over the predicted yield.  This is one reason why I always prepare extra jars because the actual yield is seldom the same as the predicted yield.  Another reason is, I very seldom buy produce by the pound or kilogram.  Rather, the organic growers I buy from sell by the basket full or by the unit and it is quite common for them the add an extra or two for me as a thank-you.  This time I did pay $32 for the beans but they gave me three large slicing tomatoes and three field cucumbers at no charge!  The organic growers are generally close to or even a bit lower in price than the grocery store.  I should have waited as fresh beans went on sale in the grocery stores for the long weekend so the organic grower would have lowered the price as well!

Another common question is whether I save money canning beans.  The answer is yes but the amount of savings is dependent on whether I grow the beans myself or buy then.  In this case, I had a yield of 27 - 500 ml jars which is the equivalent to 34 - 398 ml cans of commercially canned beans.  The cost worked out to $1.18 per 500 ml jar which is equal to 94¢ per 398 ml can.  Even with paying the higher price for the organic beans buying them when I did, I still realized a savings!  More importantly, I have a higher quality product in my pantry.

How do you calculate how many jar of beans to can?  This is actually quite easy simply by analyzing our eating patterns.  We eat beans as a side at least once a week which works out to 52 - 500 ml jars.  We are away almost 16 weeks of the year so at bare minimum I need to can 36 - 500 ml jars.  I plan on canning at least another canner load of beans this week.  If I were canning home grown beans as I normally do, I would can whatever we didn't eat fresh, freeze or give away even if over the amount needed for the year.  This ensures a steady supply that compensates for years such as this where I can less than the normal amount.


1 food lovers commented:

Linda said...

Great post. Thank you so much for sharing. Greetings from Montreal.